- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2005

Democrats convened a partisan hearing yesterday in an attempt to breathe new life into the suspicion that Karl Rove is guilty of an illegal leak to the press.

The hearing, convened in a Senate office building by the Democratic Policy Committee, featured both House and Senate members and a slate of witnesses guaranteed to testify that the deputy White House chief of staff was guilty of misdeeds in leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

“We know that a dastardly crime in all likelihood was committed,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan was peppered with questions about Mr. Rove nearly every day for two weeks in early July, and the story dominated the political news. Since Mr. Bush tapped Judge John G. Roberts Jr. for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, however, questions about Mr. Rove and stories about the controversy have dwindled to a trickle.

Mr. McClellan was not asked a single question about Mr. Rove by reporters traveling aboard Air Force One yesterday.



Roll Call reported Thursday that a set of “talking points” was issued Wednesday by Senate Democratic leadership urging rank-and-file senators to do what they could to keep the controversy surrounding Mr. Rove in the news.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said the “faux hearings” demonstrate that Democrats are too eager to score political points to wait for the facts to come out upon completion of the special prosecutor’s investigation into the matter.

“If Democrats had any confidence in the investigatory process, they would hold their fire and let the investigation proceed rather than rushing to judgment,” Miss Schmitt said.

Mrs. Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who has accused the White House of lying about Iraq’s attempts to acquire weapons-grade nuclear material from Niger. A report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the British intelligence service and other intelligence agencies around the world, however, claim the attempt was made.

The bipartisan intelligence committee report also determined that Mrs. Plame recommended to the CIA that her husband — a critic of the war in Iraq — travel to Niger to verify the story of attempted “yellowcake” uranium purchases. Though his own report suggested it had occurred, Mr. Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on July 6, 2003, saying it was wrong of the White House to suggest it did happen.

Mr. Wilson has never publicly reconciled that conflict.

Democrats, however, made it clear that they believe Mr. Wilson’s op-ed, and are convinced that Mr. Rove “outed” Mrs. Plame as a form of political retribution.

“The White House launched a smear campaign, and Valerie Plame became collateral damage,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat. “Now the White House has gone silent. It won’t answer any questions. It won’t take any administrative action against Mr. Rove.”

Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, said that what occurred is “at its worst, treason committed by high-level White House officials, and at the best we have seen an abuse of power.”

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